‘2041’ is an eponymous collection of self-portraits, concealed beneath various forms of burqa or niqab. Using the camera to articulate a passion he has secretly indulged for decades, the artist appears dozens of times without ever disclosing his image or identity.
Long before 2041 bought his first real burqa online, he began crafting his own versions from draped and folded fabrics in a rich array of textures and colours. By photographing himself in these costumes – ranging from the traditional to the theatrical – he adopts multiple personas, but always remains anonymous.
2041’s first memories of the pleasure of being enveloped in swathes of cloth are from his days as a choirboy. As an adult, he developed an interest in more complete coverings, but it was only ten years ago that he first bought a computer and found an online community that shares his passion.
The photographs in 2041 were selected from thousands that he made to share with these fellow enthusiasts. Anonymised by both the internet and the veil, these men and women, Christian, Muslim and without religion, post their pictures and thoughts from locations spanning Western Europe and the Gulf States.
For many, including Muslim men, the practice is driven by what one Christian woman describes as her ‘insatiable desire for extreme modesty.’ What almost all seem to crave is transcendence of the physical self – or at least being judged on the physical – coupled with the excitement of observing the world unseen, safely cocooned in luxuriant fabrics. This is the burqa seen in a celebratory light.